Friday, March 25, 2011

Pinks and purples...


Some plants are blooming for the first time. So I had to take some photos, naturally!

Hill Country penstemon (Penstemon triflorus)
We bought this last March on my birthday, and it's finally bloomed.
Tradescantia 'Purple'
We bought the spiderwort on my birthday, too.
I thought this was wild foxglove. Wrong! Looks like a globe mallow (Sphaeralcea angustifolia). James transplanted it from a ranch east of town to our Wildscape nearly two years ago. 


 UPDATE MARCH 27, 2011–I took some more photos of the spiderwort and penstemon....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I've got a problem.

Wasps. Probably carpenter ants, too. I've spotted both on and around the house (outside).

James doesn't like wasps. I'm okay with them. However, I'm beginning to see how they could become a bigger problem because they're currently scoping out our garage for nest sites. Not good.

I don't like pesticides.

Last year, I'm pretty sure I saw a toad with only one eye. Which means a birth defect. Not good.

Time to do a little research. I'd better HURRY.

Any suggestions?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Live owl cam in Austin

Hey, it's time to check in with Cathy and Bob Howell of Austin. They have a live camera on their eastern screech owl nest box. So far, their female hasn't laid an egg yet. It is SO COOL to watch! In the last two years, their owls have been ahead of ours, family wise. We had baby owls in 2009 but not 2010. Since an owl has been roosting again in our box, we're hoping to have little ones again. They are FUN to watch once they start climbing up the box and peeking out (check out our photos from 2009).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mystery bones

James found this jawbone in our front yard. Anyone care to guess what furry animal it once belonged to? (Help?)

Wildflowers are here!

Indian paintbrush in the Meadow...

Prairie verbena....
Across the street in our neighbor's yard, mountain laurel...
A dogface on a laurel bloom....
Yellow evening primrose
And while you're admiring wildflowers, you never know what else you might spot, like teeny tiny spiderings, dispersing along a community dragline.

Lost Ladybug Project sightings

Coccinella septempunctata
(same as above)

Harmonia axyridis
This evening, one landed on me, and James spotted the other! I just uploaded these images to the Lost Ladybug Project. 

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 20, 2011–Rebecca at the LLP recently posted my images on the Lost Ladybug Project. Cool! "Your fantastic Olla v-nigrum photo is going in the CALS (Cornell Ag & Life Sciences) newsletter soon!" she wrote me. Even cooler! 

She owl

James saw our screech owl roosting again this evening. I grabbed my camera this time. Maybe we'll have little ones again this spring!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The mean side of nature...

Couldn't tell you when but one recent day I noticed my arms itched just a tad. Hmmmm, bed bugs? We just gotten a new comforter for our bed. I didn't think any more about it. Until the next morning, when I noticed the itchy places were starting to look....well.....a little like a rash. The NEXT day, I KNEW what I had....POISON IVY!

Been there, done that. At least twice in my history. "Well, at least it's just a mild case,"I told James. "I've had WORSE."

Yes, much worse. This one's been itchy but not unbearably so. Except for one 2 a.m.

I'm pretty sure I must have met up with poison ivy on our 11 acres. I was out there with James last week, hacking grape and smilax vines. I guess there must have been a poison ivy one in there, too. Except seems like I should have a really, really bad case if our encounter was THAT close. Oh, well. I'm just gonna let it run its course. I bought some anti-itch gel Sunday, and that's helped. 

Another day I'll tell you what it's REALLY like to have a yucky case of poison ivy!

Our screech owl's definitely back!

There she is!
Maybe we'll get little ones this spring after all!

Monday, March 14, 2011

They're HERE!

Just this minute spotted our first hummingbird of the season! A male black-chinned hummer was at the feeder that I JUST HUNG UP YESTERDAY! Talk about perfect timing! Cool!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 2011 in our Wildscape

I am going to TRY and shoot photos once a month for a year.

Odds and little ends

Caught on one of our robins in the front yard...
Our volunteer Texas redbud is finally blooming....
And spotted some TINY spiderlings on the wedelia in the process of dispersing....

Peach blossoms!

Our two peach trees are in full bloom! Which makes the butterflies and bees happy....

Pipevine swallowtail, I think. 

What IS that?

This morning, I was chatting with Mom on the phone when I happened to notice an interesting insect crawling up the outside of our dining room window. Hmmmm. "I'll check your blog later and see what it was!" Mom said before we hung up.

By the time I returned with my camera, the insect had climbed up under the window's middle section. I unlocked the latches, opened the window and hung out while I snapped this photo. Gabe, one of our boy cats (whom I do not talk about on this blog because it's really not cool to have domestic cats in a Wildscape....but, OKAY, might as well confess to three), was heading toward me. Darn it! And double darn it–the insect flew off.

In the meantime, I'd been e-mailing with Dr. John Abbott, curator of Entomology at the Texas Natural Science Center (and author of the upcoming Texas Damselflies: A Field Guide) so I shot him the image and asked what he thought it might be. "Looks like a maybe a Tephritidae (true fruit flies)," he offered. "I thought maybe at first a Pyrgotidae."

Time to post the image at and get some more input. "Looks like Delphinia picta (Ulidiiae) to me," commented Bjoern Rulik. 

By George, I agree! My mystery insect is a picture-winged fly!! Cool cool cool!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New-to-me moth and bug

Phigalia denticulata
I photographed these three critters while fetching the agriope spider sac on the porch today. Then I posted them to for IDs.

This evening, I received a reply from Randy Hardy about the moth: "Small world (bug joke!). I'm Irene Cage's brother-in-law. Blanco must be warming up like Tucson is right now–love this time of year. Anyway, I THINK your moth is a Phigalia denticulata. Some nice pics of it at the Moth Photographers Group. Wait for the experts–I'm just learning. Have a great day!" Thanks, Randy!

A P.S. from Randy later:"I stick to moths mostly. We're lucky to have Maury Heiman, a moth expert from the Hill Country, here on BG. You might look through his photos HERE to help get IDs on moths (always fun to do the detective work!)."

The next two are bugs. No, really, BUGS. AIn the genus Brochymen–rough stink bugs. Cool, eh?

Brochymena chelonoides
(per updated October 31, 2011)